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Sequlr: a time sequence tool

Sequlr is a simple timeline service for the internet.

I’ve put together a little website to let people create and share timelines.  The service is Sequlr.  It’s a simple service, and hopefully conforms to the best practices of web development.

Sequlr is built on Google App Engine with Django and all sorts of fun things (details on the technologies are included in the credits of the about section of the site).

The use cases I envision are anything from historical sequences to personal diaries (you can keep a sequence private), and anything else where a timeline makes sense.  I even have an example of using the oEmbed feature with YouTube videos, in that case a selection of punk rock songs over its history.

Some development notes:

  1. In designing the layout I tried to keep to a minimalist, clean design.
  2. I have tried to keep it accessible for users of accessibility technologies.  This also means that the site should work just fine if you disable javascript.
  3. A lot of different open-source tools have contributed to its development.

Being my own critic is difficult, so I would love some feedback on both the design and function of the site.  But, here are a few of my own complaints (I will keep it short):

  1. Having the search form at the top seems to make it unnecessarily busy.  My layout didn’t leave a good option for its placement.  It kind of fits there, but it could be better.
  2. The SIMILE Timeline has a lot going for it, but it’s also kind of clunky both to use and to integrate into a website.  I would like to replace it eventually, and I would strongly prefer to use an accessible replacement.
  3. The CSS could be a bit cleaner, but there’s a trade off between the caching and dynamic inclusion of particular directives.
  4. Adding events to sequences seems tedious, but that may just be the nature of the sorts of timelines I built for examples.

Anyway, check it out and leave some feedback.  I’ll be happy to hear it, even if it’s “no one will use this ever, but it’s also ugly.”

web time

It’s trivial to have good time strings and browser-based time conversion. Unfortunately, it’s not implemented.

The w3c has various time specifications for time & date, but there seems to be a lack of use and/or implementation.

There’s just no good excuse, given that a browser should recognize time values when present, and have awareness of the locale information of the operating system/user, for anyone to see “5:00 PST” or the like.

There’s no reason that today’s lunar eclipse times posted on the Wikipedia entry should include a table of various timezones.

Okay, I’m a little off with that statement. If you are planning to view in a timezone other than your own, or to relay that information to someone in another timezone. But, even then I believe you should be responsible for the conversion.

So what’s the alternative, everything in UTC/GMT? No.

The alternative is responsible implementations that allow aware browsers to display ALL time values converted to your local time.

In other words you should always expect a time value to be local to your current time locale.

So how does that work? It’s dead simple and requires only one change. It works by having well-formed time values with accompanying tags or markup that designate they are time values.

Given some string which is marked as time, the browser makes a best-effort parse to understand that string, and then displays in its place whatever preference the User (you) have for time display.

Many websites today do this by a few methods. A majority of them probably use javascript, whilst some (given you are registered) have a setting and use the server’s time +/- your setting’s offset.

Both of these are hacks. No one should need to have javascript enabled or login just to have times displayed “correctly” and even then the sites display them in the form they want, not in a user-specified, browser-profile format.

It is trivial to do this correctly, yet it’s not done.